Nikokreon Monument in Famagusta, North Cyprus.
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Nikokreon Monument
(The Cenotaph of Nicocreon)

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Officially called Tomb 77 of the Salamis necropolis, the Nikokreon Monument near Salamis in North Cyprus is actually not a tomb at all! This monument lies in the town of Tuzla (Engomi) North Cyprus and was never designed to contain bodies. Instead, the Nikokreon Monument commemorates a rather grisly moment in the history of North Cyprus.

King Nicocreon of Salamis, North Cyprus

Nicocreon was King of Salamis in 311BC, when he rose up against the Egyptian ruler of Cyprus, Ptolomy 1. This was a bad move, as Ptolomy promptly besieged the city of Salamis, and before long Nicocreon realised he would be defeated. Rather than suffer the humiliation of defeat, King Nicocren committed suicide, and his wife Axiothea killed her daughters so that they would not be raped by Potelomy’s avenging soldiers. Axiothea then burnt the royal palace at Salamis to the ground, with her family and herself inside.

In recognition of this noble act, the Nikokreon Monument was built. The monument was a platform 52 metres in diameter; a ramp led up to the platform on one side, and steps on the other three. Excavations revealed how clay statues and offerings were burnt on funeral pyres on the platform in honour of the lost royal family. At some point, the whole platform was covered in 10 metres of earth. Thanks to this layer of earth, the contents of the mound were found untouched, comprising limestone statues, wine jars from the island of Rhodes and a bronze shield. Also, items from the funeral pyres were unearthed, including clay human figures and a clay model of a horse.

Today, the Nikokreon Monument lies behind the church in Tuzla, North Cyprus, while the offering discovered there during the excavations are in the museum at the Royal Tombs site.